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Coastal Ecosystems Field Course
7-11 July, 2008
VIMS Eastern Shore Lab
Wachapreague, VA

Delmarva MapSince 2001, Virginia Sea Grant Extension Program educators have led classroom science teachers in explorations of the diverse habitats of Virginia's Eastern Shore and its barrier islands. The home base for these learning adventures is an active coastal research facility, the VIMS Eastern Shore Lab in Wachapreague, VA. This year, we are again offering science teachers this field-intensive, sun-up to sun-down survey of the coastal ecosystems characteristic of the Mid-Atlantic region.

Learning from scientists, Virginia Sea Grant educators, and fellow teachers, participants will receive: Virginia SOL-relevant content in marine biology, chemistry, physics, earth and ocean sciences; teaching resources for the classroom and field; and a meaningful outdoor educa07-Dec-2012onal content from for years to come. Using hig07-Dec-2012ystems with various types of oceanographic equipment, including:

  • Otter trawl
  • Oyster dredge
  • Sediment corer
  • YSI salinity/DO/temp probe
  • Refractometer
  • Secchi disk
  • GPS receivers
  • Benthic grab
  • HOBO data loggers
  • Niskin bottle





07-Dec-2012he mudflat" src="mudflat.jpg" width="187" border="1" />
Using a refractometer Spot in view box

Participants will investigate the various habitats of the Wachapreague area, including:

  • Salt marshes
  • Mud flats
  • Lagoon
  • Oyster reef
  • Barrier islands
  • Tidal inlet
  • Coastal Atlantic ocean






Click here for a map of the field sites!

Participants are also able to explore the coastal community of Wachapreage, the Little City by the Sea, which includes a successful working waterfront.

Target Audience

This course is for educators who:

  • Teach middle and/or high school science OR are non-formal educators who focus on earth, environmental, marine, or biological sciences
    • Note: Educators in other fields and grade levels may be selected if their application demonstrates strong integration of course concepts into existing teaching assignments
  • Enjoy, or are willing to endure, early mornings and long hours in the field under the typical summer weather and insect conditions of coastal Virginia
  • Will maintain virtual communications throughout the school year for the purposes of collegial sharing and course evaluation
  • Have a basic understanding of coastal biology and ecology
  • Are comfortable using basic computer and Internet-based applications and communications (e.g. Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer/Firefox, email)

Particpant Requirements

Participants will be expected to:

  • Fully participate in the five day residential program
  • With their students in the appropriate classes, conduct and assess two lessons or activities using content and resources from the workshop during the 2008-09 school year
  • Complete follow-up questionnaires regarding their implementation of content and activities from the workshop (we anticipate no more than two online surveys during the 2008-09 school year)
  • Post feedback on the implementation of lesson plans, and participate in online group discussions via a project "blog" and email during the 2008-09 school year


This agenda (pdf) is meant to provide a basic outline for the five day course. It is subject to change.

Lodging is available at the Eastern Shore Lab's dormitory and is included in tuition. It is a large older house that has been renovated for group living. The second story consists of two large bunkrooms, each with its own bathroom. Additional bunkrooms and bathroom facilities (including handicapped accessible facility) are available on the first floor. The dorm also includes a large kitchen and dining area, small den with satellite tv and a picnic area with gas grills.

Hotel accomodations are also available, at the participant's cost, approximately 20 minutes from the Lab.

The cost of this program is a $75 materials fee, payable after applicants are notified of acceptance in the workshop. The majority of program expenses are covered by generous funding from Virginia Sea Grant and in-kind support from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

>> The application period is now closed. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance on or around Friday, June 13th. Thanks to all that applied. <<

2008 Save-the-Date brochure (pdf)

If you have any questions not answered by this page, or have a problem with the online course application, please contact Chris Petrone, Virginia Sea Grant Marine Education Specialist.

Below are just a few of the activities we conduct as a part of the Field Course.

Beach Profiling Activity

Beach profilingAs a part of the Summer 06 and 07 workshops, teachers took part in an extensive beach profiling activity that can be inexpensively replicated with their students on any terrain. For the project, teachers profiled Cedar (06 and 07) and Parramore (06 only) Islands, two of Virginia's nearly-uninhabited barrier islands, which lie due east of the town of Wachapreague.

Back in the lab, students graphed the data and added captions to their profiles detailing the changes in flora and fauna observed over the transect.

2006 Cedar Island Profile

Activity Handout (MS Word)

New Views on Sand

Sand labCompare and contrast sand from across the nation and globe, virtually! This activity combines demonstration and hands-on lab stations, offering ideas for using both real and virtual sands to illustrate: diverse origins and composition of sand grains; rock cycle processes of erosion and deposition; coastal processes, like the effects of wave action on sand size, movement, and beach development; and the importance of sand and beaches to marine life and people.

Bridge Data Analysis Teaching Activities (DATAs)

Bridge logoParticipants will be introduced to the Bridge website and the wealth of resources it contains, including over 60 classroom-ready activities that use real scientific data.

Real-Time Observing of Wachapreague Conditions

Participants will learn how to monitor conditions and water quality of their favorite Wachapreague field sites right from their classrooms using ocean observing systems.


Virginia Sea Grant • Virginia Institute of Marine Science
P.O. Box 1346 • Gloucester Point, VA 23062 • 804-684-7164 • 804-684-7161 (fax)